Lost and Found: Happy Birthday from the Past

mm-45-year-old-mail-2014-04-11-bk02_zWouldn’t we all love to receive one last message from a loved one now gone? Susan Heifetz of Brooklyn not only received such a message, but one sealed with a kiss.

A man living in her childhood home called Susan to say he found a letter for her in the mailbox. Postmarked June 26, 1969.

Susan thought the story sounded fishy until he described it. “He said on the back there was a lipstick mark—and that’s something my mother did with letters—seal it with a kiss.” 

Her mother mailed her a birthday card that took 45 years to arrive.

1969: When Susan’s mom stuck a 6¢ stamp on that envelope in June, three astronauts were preparing to journey to the Moon in Apollo 11. The Vietnam War raged. My favorite TV show was Here Come the Brides, but I also remember watching BewitchedThe Flying Nun, and Mission Impossible. Students staged sit-ins at universities, and newly married John Lennon and Yoko Ono held “bed-ins” for peace. And somewhere, somehow a birthday card went very, very astray.

This lost letter story hit home for me. My parents passed away a few years ago, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it would be to receive a card addressed, “Dear Daughter Susan.”

mm-45-year-old-mail-2014-04-11-bk01_iSusan’s mother wrote, “Now, Always, Forever & Ever! Long Life, Good Health! (? ?) Happiness!” and signed it, Mama Molly and Daddy Sam.

Incredibly, within a couple of days of that card’s arrival, the post office delivered ANOTHER letter mailed to Susan in 1969, this one sent in October from Vietnam. And then a third vintage piece of mail surfaced, a birthday card from her brother, mailed a day before her mother’s card.

What explanation is there for this spate of decades-old mail, pieces sent from disparate locales months apart? Did one of her neighbors squirrel away other people’s letters? Did her local post office have faulty sorting equipment in 1969? Does Brooklyn have a disturbance in the space-time continuum?

Whatever the cause, the result is clear: time transforms even the most commonplace correspondence into something special.

You can read more in The Brooklyn Paper.

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